This article aims to answer three questions about thin clients, but, first, we will answer a fourth question: “For whom?, in order to clarify immediately if you are among those who may need a thin client device.

Are you considering the best IT solution for your company?
Or, are you called to extend, renew or digitally transform your organization?
Are you a decision maker or a technician called to support your company in the purchase or selection of IT equipment?
Or, again, are you an ICT expert called to support a customer in his choices and in the set-up of his IT infrastructure?
Finally, are we talking about IT infrastructures with numerous (tens, hundreds or even thousands) endpoint workstations?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of the previous questions, then thin clients could be interesting devices for your company or your customers. A second step is to have three factors clear:

  • How is your IT infrastructure made, or how would you like it to be made?
  • What are (or would you like them to be) your organizational processes relating to the management of IT equipment?
  • What are your priorities regarding the IT component?

Having these points clear, we can anticipate that the higher or more stringent your security, scalability and uniformity requirements are, the greater may be your need to equip yourself with these solutions to be able to make a real difference, make your solution robust and durable. streamlining your IT processes and simplifying the life of your technical staff, as well as all employees.

Let’s keep in mind that the three main characteristics of a thin client are:

  • Operate according to the Client/Server paradigm, on infrastructures in which computational resources, data and/or applications are offered in a centralized way.
  • Being hardware solutions without mechanical components and with targeted sizing to cover specific performance and use requirements, with limited disk (no data stored) and with the aim of containing consumption and costs.
  • Adopt software solutions focused on centralized management, aimed at automating and making the configuration, security and maintenance of such devices scalable, so much so that even normal PCs could be transformed via software to operate as thin clients.

Given these characteristics, therefore, we refer as much to “real” thin clients (with their hardware peculiarities) as to “software thin clients”, or hardware transformed into thin clients through special software (agents or operating systems) that they modify the mode of operation (eg use of write filters) and enable them for centralized management.

But let’s see some extensive answers to each of the 3 particular questions: “where, when and above all why to use thin clients”?

Thin clients: where to use them?

  • In business and industrial enterprises (always in a professional context).
  • Where there is an organizational structure responsible for the management of digital workstations or endpoints (as in the case of Industry 4.0), such as an IT admin or an IT team, or in cases when an external service provider takes care of it.
  • Where there is a dedicated IT infrastructure, or at least centralized services or applications, whether, for example, desktop virtualization servers managed on premise, or specific applications published and accessible in the cloud.
  • Where (but not limited to) there are particular space or design requirements of the workstation, or characterized by the mobility of staff (shared or multi-operator workstations, open-spaces), or even in production environments or with the most challenging environmental conditions.

Thin clients: when to use them?

  • When there is uniformity in digital workplaces (i.e. there are many workstations that must share the same configuration and IT environment, or based on the task of the workstation or the role of the user) and when the standardization of the workstation represents a fundamental factor of efficiency and security.
  • When the numbers of endpoints are significant (at least several dozen) and especially when there are high scalability criteria, or when there is the need to manage an ever-increasing number of devices without this entailing an increase (if not minimal and in any case not proportional) economic costs and management effort.
  • When (but not only) there are stringent requirements relating to IT security.

Thin clients: why to use them?

  • To ensure the uniformity and replicability of the workstations (replacement, restoration, addition of a new workstation, massive reconfiguration).
  • To guarantee all employees an always up-to-date work environment, a constant, secure, homogeneous and often even simplified user experience (to speed up access to business critical applications).
  • To automate and make endpoint management highly scalable in synergy with the management of the entire corporate IT infrastructure.
  • To centralize and make the workstation management efficient, from an organizational point of view, simplifying business operations (power management, scheduling and automated replication of updates).
  • To increase the security of the entire infrastructure, taking advantage of some differentiating and intrinsic elements of the thin client (such as execution in volatile memory or disk protection) and of the centralization of security functions (such as the automation of the update or distribution of packages or certificates, control in the peripheral block).
  • To simplify the creation and configuration of highly controlled workstations or kiosks, information or monitoring.
  • For the containment of capital costs (devices that are not oversized and essential) and an optimization of operating costs (great scalability and reduction of management costs by up to 70%).
  • To better support corporate scenarios for mobile and remote use of corporate workstations (through the adoption of “thin client software” solutions).

To sum up

If your enterprise needs many digital workstations, if the use of these workstations is not highly customized, or if you still have particular security requirements and if you are already organized from an IT point of view (such as infrastructure and staff) thin clients and their technology that offers great potential (and requires centralized tools and technical expertise) and that balances the performance of endpoints within a client/server paradigm, are for you.